US State Department confirms detention of US citizen in Saudi Arabia
The son of a US citizen imprisoned in Saudi Arabia for criticizing the Saudi government said on Tuesday evening that his father was “far from a dissident”.
“My father is an elderly American citizen who just wants to live freely and happily in the United States where he was educated,” Saad Ibrahim Almadi’s son, Ibrahim Almadi, told CNN’s Erin Burnett on “OutFront.”
The US State Department confirmed earlier on Tuesday that Saad Ibrahim Almadi, 72, has been jailed in Saudi Arabia after being sentenced to 16 years in prison for tweets criticizing the Saudi government.
Almadi’s imprisonment was first reported by The Washington Post.
Ibrahim Almadi told CNN on Tuesday that if his father had been detained in Russia or Iran, “we would see his name in the headlines every morning.”
State Department deputy spokesman Vedant Patel told a press conference that officials had “consistently and intensely raised our concerns about the matter with senior levels of the Saudi government, both through the Riyadh and Washington, DC channels, as well as…just yesterday.”
Patel also confirmed that there were no State Department officials at Almadi’s sentencing hearing, which he said was due to the Saudi government moving the date forward. the hearing without notifying the US Embassy and never responded to the Embassy’s request to attend the hearing weeks before the originally scheduled date. . The last time the United States had consular access to Almadi was Aug. 10, according to Patel.
The State Department, he said, is still continuing the process to determine whether Almadi will be designated as “wrongfully detained.”
“The exercise of free speech should never be criminalized,” Patel said.
The State Department communicated with the Saudi ambassador in Washington on Monday about Almadi’s case, a US official told CNN.
This headline and story were updated with additional developments on Tuesday.